Tuning issues

Gasp100

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
21,813
I built a nice partscaster and it's playing pretty well, but I have one fairly major issue. I didn't have any string tree's so I just strung it up for testing, and everything was fine. The only problem was that when fretting a D chord, it would sound out of tune. I made sure open tuning was fine and other chords seemed to sound okay, so I figured string tree's would fix the issue. Well, they did not. In fact, while installing one of the string trees the screw to one of them broke off INTO THE HEADSTOCK
:BOUNCE
F***ing cheap ass plastic made to look like chrome I guess, I don't know.
So, now the headstock is marred a bit... anyway, how do you troubleshoot a guitar that is tuned correctly, but when certain chords are played (like I said, lower frets, D - E strings) the chord/tuning is out...? Is this a problem with the nut possibly? I bet, it's a cheap plastic nut on this neck and it's killing me... please let me know. As of right now I've pulled the guitar from the emporium and I'm selling the loaded Tele body only. I may have to just trash the neck, which is ashame because it's really nice aside from this tuning problem.
This neck is pissing me off because I tried to use this on another guitar and took it to a pro whole made it even worse. I then bought this gear to build around the neck and I'm having more problems.... I should just cut my loses (hence selling the loaded body which is killer).
 

David Collins

Member
Messages
2,246
The nut slots need to be cut, and the string tree screw wasn't plastic, you proably just didn't drill the pilot hole large enough or tightened it too far. If you can't get it right, take it in to a good tech before throwing it away.
 

Gasp100

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
21,813
Spot on Dave. The screw issue is my fault (no idea how I'm going to get the embedded screw out, I might just sand it flush and fill with some wood putty. I have to find a good tech around here. I wasted $100 on really shoddy work with this same neck on a previous guitar, and I'm gun shy. But I think this neck needs some really good attention to the nut, if not just having the nut replaced with a better material/higher quality. Who knows, that might be enough to make the guitar a keeper.
:RoCkIn
 

Chiba

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
7,832
Yeah - sounds like the intonation on one of the strings in the D chord is off. Depending on HOW off it is, and in which direction, that would make some chords sound fine and others sound bad.

Also, you could (worst case IMHO) have a fret that doesn't have a proper crown on it, but just under the D chord notes somehow. Unlikely though.

--chiba
 

EADGBE

Member
Messages
12,344
Who made the neck? Is it an import? Is it new or old? What brand strings are you using?
 

Hargrett

Member
Messages
127
Hi, Folks. I'm new here, so please excuse me if I'm covering old ground. I also posted this reply on another thread where it seemed appropriate... hope cross-posting is ok. I agree that the nut probably needs to be adjusted. Don't try this at home unless you absolutely know what you're doing and can deal with the consequences if you go too far! Specifically, while cutting the slots to the proper depth, I check to be sure they're angled correctly and that the string leaves the nut at the front (fretboard) edge... I do this by marking the bottom of a slot with pencil lead so I can see where I'm cutting, then run a nut file lightly through the slot, angled slightly back toward the headstock... I want to end up with all the lead removed except for the tiniest bit at the very front edge of the nut. If the string doesn't leave at the front edge of the nut, the intonation will be off, and the string probably won't ring correctly when played open. If the nut slots are cut to the correct depth and angle, the only other cause I know of for the D-chord problem is squeezing the G string too hard.
Hope this helps.
 

Gasp100

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
21,813
Who made the neck? Is it an import? Is it new or old? What brand strings are you using?
It's a Mighty Mite aftermarket neck from JC Guitars. I set the intonation using the bridge/brass saddle adjustments. The Joe Barden bridge seems to actually work pretty well for intonation (even if it is 3 brass saddles). I think the cheap plastic nut on this neck is the culprit. The high E slot is almost non existent and I've had to use a lot of pencil lead to let the higher strings flow through easily.
 

David Collins

Member
Messages
2,246
There are a million things that can cause intonation problems, and tracking them down on a forum can take weeks, while a good tech can give a diagnosis and prognosis in about 30 seconds in person.

This case is not that complicated. While I can't rule out other things also being wrong, the problem you're describing is a telltale sign of the nut slots being too high. Since about 99% of all new guitars suffer this, and a Mighty Mite neck will certainly not have had the nut fine tuned, it's a pretty sure thing. The problem is not primarily related to nut material, nut friction, slot angle - those cause lots of other problems, but your main problem is that you are playing on a rough-cut nut with the slots way too high.

If you want to do it yourself there are a number of discussions in the archive or still active a few pages back. If you just need it done on a few guitars, taking it to a tech will be cheaper, and you won't have to deal with the learning curve (which can be pretty long).
 




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